Building Your Own Playday

By |2020-11-16T08:35:27-07:00November 24th, 2020|

Sparkchasers Episode 12 | Show Notes

Building Your Own Playday

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Today (the day this is being released) is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I’m not in my office. I’m actually at home, preparing my kitchen for the invasion of my team members – both in person and virtually. Today is our 2nd company playday and I couldn’t be more excited. 

Today, I want to walk you through how we have chosen to set up our Playdays as a team, why we believe in this so much, and how you can build your own. Let’s dig in!

Playday Overview

So like I said, today our playday is being held in my kitchen. We’re spending our whole day baking and then creating treat bags to send home with each other. The leftovers will be taken to our local shelters for their Thanksgiving dinners. 

This whole playday experiment started because of a podcast I listened to from Brene Brown. She shared some incredible research on the power of play. Not just for kids, but for us as adults, too. This research shares that play helps our brains process, recuperate, and create in new ways. For me as a business owner, that’s powerful stuff. The research also shares that play helps us personally to reduce stress, find joy in our lives, and to build connective relationships. 

Years ago, I read the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte. And much of this same research was reflected in that book. In fact, Brigid traveled the world to the “happiest” places and interviewed people from those regions to find out how and why they were happier than others. Turns out, people in those places put a high premium on making time for play and personal joy. It’s more important to them than money, work, or just about anything else. And their workplaces provide the structure to honor those priorities.

Key Ideas:

  • What is a Playday?
  • How do you structure a Playday?
  • The difference between work and home Playdays
  • Using playdays in school

Why and How We Built Our Playdays

Once I learned about the importance of play, I knew I wanted to begin implementing this with our staff. I had already started using this practice at home with my family and I loved it. We were more connected and joyful together. And after this past summer, I knew this was something my team needed as well.

Our team is a mix of both in-person and virtual environments. We have a physical office space that was able to reopen after the initial lockdowns in March. And we also have employees who live all over the United States that we connect with virtually on a regular basis. In the past, we’re tried to get together at least once a year (or once a quarter if possible) to have that face to face connection that’s so important. But with COVID-19, that just hasn’t been a reality. And that’s been difficult for all of us. We really love each other as a team and miss seeing each other. Plus, we’ve had an extremely busy year: we enrolled our latest certification group in March, held our largest online summer conference ever, then held a 2nd virtual conference in October around remote learning, we released 3 new online courses, created and distributed 2 new podcasts, and have just released our 2nd edition of IntegratED with 120 new lesson packs. My team was running on fumes. So Playdays seemed to be a great idea.

Key Ideas on how we built our Playdays:

  • Outlining the purpose and scheduling the days for our whole group with the Leadership Team
  • Asking our team members what they love to do, or what they do that makes time disappear.
  • Creating playdays around common items everyone loved.
  • Selecting one day each month for a Playday

Behind-the-Scenes of our First Playday

Our first playday was the Thursday before Halloween. We had selected two items (since it was Halloween): dress up as your favorite Golden Girl character and playing board games. We were going to Facetime in Holly in New York so she could participate virtually and the rest of us would come into the office for a day of games and fun. But it turned out a little differently – and we learned a lot of lessons.

Here’s some key things we learned:

  • Make sure everyone knows how the day will go and the ground rules
  • Don’t schedule a playday during a time when there’s a deadline looming for something critical
  • When you select items for your playday, be clear on the specifics of what you enjoy
  • Letting go of stressors is hard in a work environment. If you’re not going “off campus”, build in time to transition out of work mode.

How to Craft Your Own Playday

So how do you take this idea of a playday and make it your own? After all, if you’re in schools, it’s mighty difficult to take a whole day to play either as a staff or as a class. And unless you’re an administrator, you probably don’t have the ability to call a playday as a staff.

But there are definitely some ways to work this in. You just have to think about it a little differently. First, try bringing this idea to the social committee. You might not be able to have a full playday, but you might be able to have a play staff meeting. Or a play hour or half-hour. 

You might also think about how to do a playday or even a play warmup in your class. And you get in on the action! Don’t just facilitate the play – actually play. 

Key ideas:

  • Remember that it’s not about the amount of time playing. It’s about the play itself.
  • Think small: how can you build in play during your lessons? Is it just a matter of switching up roles so you are able to play with your students? Or, how can you build in play with other staff members?
  • Maybe you want to do this at home, instead. Ask everyone what they love to do, come up with a list that includes things everyone enjoys, and then pick a day and time to start doing this together.
  • Whenever possible, try to weave these in during times that are a little low-key to start. Once you’ve built in the practice, then you can start building them in during times of high-stress as well.

So…are you ready to work in more play? I hope you’ll give this idea a try…and this upcoming holiday season is the best chance to give it a whirl. There are so many fun activities you can do – see if you can weave them in a little more purposefully this year. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about this topic.  Remember, you can use the ask me anything button below to share with me your ideas and what’s bubbling to the surface for you. And if you are enjoying the show and know someone who could benefit from our discussions, please share the podcast with them. Together, we can chase the spark of our ideas and make a brighter future for everyone.

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